Hire An Audio-Visual Production Company Or A Freelancer?


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What Is The Difference Between A Production Company And A Freelancer?

In its simplest sense, a freelancer or freelance videographer is usually an individual who is hired to perform a specific task such as recording with a camera. A video production company provide their own equipment, planning, supervision, customer interface, the actual recording, editing and anything else the client might need to successfully complete their project. The price points for hiring an experienced production company and hiring a freelancer are different because of the functions and value-added a video production company provides.

Because video is becoming so common with inexpensive equipment available some clients might look only at price and think all they need is to hire freelancers to work equipment. This doesn’t always work out well for the client because often they really need the total expertise and resources of a full-service video production company but because of inexperience don’t realize the difference when they hire and don’t find out what is lacking till later; often when it is too late.

Hopefully, this article can provide more insight and define the differences between hiring freelance videographers and of hiring a video production company with the many extra functions that the latter can provide.

Gathering information, pre-production planning before opting for a freelancer or production company

Frequently it is with very cursory descriptions of what is needed; often because the caller doesn’t really understand what is needed and what has to be done.

For example, a client may say, “I want to record a presentation I’m giving at such and such convention center on a certain date/time, can you record it?” If it is a freelance videographer then the offer is granted.

However, as a video production company is going to find out if the client has permission for the company to record from the show management, who the AV contact is so that it can connect to the sound system, whether they want the PowerPoint part of it recorded also, what is the lighting setup and when and where it can set up on the floor, how do you want files delivered, do you want the presentation edited, what is the contact info for the client at the show, etc.?

And because a production company has the resources and expertise, they can adjust and be flexible to needed changes at the presentation even providing more equipment and crew if needed.

A freelance videographer is going to look to their client to do all the planning and other functions that a production company provides and in some cases particularly when the freelancer is being hired by a production company that is all that is needed.

A video production company, if they’ve got experience and credibility, should be able to ask the right questions and guide a client through the entire production process.

When Should You Use A Freelance Audio-Visual Service Provider?

  • In many cases, if someone else is providing the equipment, planning, and supervision, a freelance technician is all that is needed and the right choice.
  • However, if this isn’t available from the client, it is often the best choice to work with a video production company to have supervision that understands the client’s objectives, can assist with the planning and can interface rather than just knowing how to operate the equipment.

Why Should You Hire A video production company over a freelancer?

Though the idea of hiring an affordable freelancer can be alluring, video production is one area in which a qualified company is almost always preferable. Video production requires professional equipment, extensive experience, and quality resources to provide a polished end result. Freelancers are often unable to provide the rigorous requirements and standards that a solid video production needs

  1. Knowing what you’re getting
    • There are some fantastic freelancers within the video industry. But without a lot of time and research, you’ll never be able to tell who they are. The vast majority of freelancers operate from day to day and project to project. They will often over-promise and under-deliver because they are sending out quotes without a thorough understanding of the project that needs to be completed. Some of them are even outsourcing to cheaper freelancers, so you won’t know the quality of work before you receive it. There is no way to perform consistent quality control with a video freelancer. Many of them have only been in the industry for a year or two.
    • Even viewing their portfolio won’t necessarily help, because you won’t know the conditions under which the portfolio items were developed. You won’t know whether the freelancer scripted it or whether the client did, or whether the freelancer still has the equipment that they used available to them. The footage might be from a project that a video production company produced that the freelancer was one of a team of many people. A freelancer is, essentially, an unknown quantity. A detailed proposal would give you the information that you need; however, most freelancers don’t provide detailed proposals because they don’t have the time to do so. Instead, they focus on putting out as many quotes as they possibly can, usually off the cuff.
  2. Procuring a Range of Talent and Experience
    • A freelancer is just a single individual who is extremely talented in one specialization. They may work in camera operation, gaffing, or as an audio technician.  Just because an individual is skilled in one area doesn’t mean they are skilled in others, and creating a successful video requires a range of talent and experience.
    • A video production company hires an array of experienced, professional, and skilled staff members, who have a wide range of specialties designed to make your video production as successful as possible. There is a reason why Hollywood movies and high-end advertisement campaigns have tens or hundreds of people working on them. By tapping into this extensive pool of talent and skill, the video production company can ensure that every area of your work is excellent. Otherwise, you can end up with a video that is well-scripted but poorly shot, or has excellent visual media but terrible audio.
  3. Access to Better Equipment
    • While it’s possible to see a freelancer with higher-end equipment, they usually only have one type of high-end equipment. Because freelancers generally come from a specific specialty, a freelancer might have high-end editing equipment but not high-end production equipment, or high-end video equipment but poor quality audio equipment. Even the most talented and skilled freelancer simply cannot escape the quality of the tools that they use. When it comes to video, there is absolutely nothing that can mitigate a poorly shot video.
    • Production companies have absolutely everything they need for high-end production, ranging from cameras to Teleprompters. This ensures a higher quality of production overall, in addition to making it easier and faster to complete the project. This is where you can get a better value for working with a production company, as it’s usually not a big deal for them to throw in additional equipment on the house to increase the production value of the project.
  4. Better Systems in Place
    • Good project management is critical when it comes to video production. One of the most important differences in working with a production company versus a freelancer lies within the systems they have in place to make for a smooth and successful production process. Because of the multi-crew environment of a production company, everything can be handled through a single, effective, and consolidated system. This includes the creative brief, the scripting, storyboarding, production crew and equipment, and editing and motion graphics.
    • Happens to be on a different film shoot that day, the freelancer isn’t likely to get back to you within a reasonable amount of time. When a production company is involved, you’ll have the answers that you need quickly through their dedicated and available support staff.
  5. Ensuring a Timely and Quality Product
    • Finally, video production is really all about the final project. There are many companies that have attempted to save money by hiring a freelancer only to never actually receive a finished product. Freelancers can disappear for a variety of reasons. Not all of them are outright scams; they can just decide to exit the business and you’ll never hear from them again. If a freelancer is found on Craigslist or a similar site, there are no avenues through which to contact them. They can’t even be given a bad review online because they often have no web presence. This leaves the company scrambling to find a more reputable source of their video.
    • But it isn’t just about getting a product at all — it’s also about receiving a timely product. Even the best freelancers will take far longer than a dedicated production company because they simply don’t have the same resources. Freelancers are often working on multiple projects and cannot prioritize yours. A video production company has the staff and resources to prioritize and complete multiple projects at once so that you can have complete confidence in the time table offered.

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